As both the number of cases and the death tolls from COVID-19 increase exponentially, alongside massive unemployment claims as the global economy wanes, it is difficult to be optimistic today.
Those in digital marketing and SEO are fortunate to easily transition to a work-from-home environment. Yet, this only delays the inevitable. We will experience a trickle-down effect, that has begun within travel and events, triggering a recession.
Non-essential businesses have already closed their storefront operations, with digital marketers serving these companies in-house or externally, while cutting back on marketing spend to focus on survival.
Nonetheless, some companies have boomed. Neil Patel mentions that the finance, food, media, pharma, and healthcare industries have experienced traffic growth. Online communication software like Slack and Zoom, and those providing pandemic-related products or services, are doing well.
Furthermore, it’s important to know that prosperity will return soon enough. Although the lives lost and families shaken are irreplaceable, the cyclical pattern of business means that things will greatly improve someday. Though the coronavirus is novel and unpredictable in how it has hurt us, it will prove the saying that history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme.
Why Invest in SEO Now?
Sensible investing principles have parallels with successful digital marketing.
When a bear market arrives, value investors like Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger seize rare opportunities to buy great businesses at a discount. The famed Oracle of Omaha says, “Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble.”
Within SEO, opportunities now exist to improve keyword rankings and earn more search engine real estate by taking action. It is a comparatively low-cost digital marketing channel that never sleeps, even during tough times, for better or worse.
As companies scale back, both reduced competition and the need for low-cost marketing efforts open up new possibilities where SEO thrives.
Optimizing marketing campaigns, creating or improving content, and performing backlink outreach allow SEO to blossom during a recession.
SEO During a Recession
The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger―but recognize the opportunity.
― John F. Kennedy
- Optimize unique marketing campaigns for SEO.
The coronavirus, and a recession in general, presents businesses with opportunities unique to them, which often represent the best ways to improve SEO.
A good example is Nearmap, a leading Australian-based aerial imagery company with a satellite office in Salt Lake City. They recently have provided health officials and government agencies with free images to assist relief effort planning.
From an organic search perspective, this is a tremendous opportunity, though the possible synergy here remains to be seen. Earning trusted .gov links, applying internal and external linking with proper anchor text, and taking other steps like requesting follow links and directing them toward ideal landing pages may be ignored.
At stake here is not only more visibility toward a great cause that will increase brand awareness, but an unusual chance to greatly improve keyword rankings, organic traffic, and conversions that extend beyond this campaign, if done right.
Integrating PR and other digital marketing areas with SEO inflates their potential. Organic search represents the largest channel for many medium and large-sized companies. Unfortunately, teams leading these initiatives have little reason to own and care about organic search results without an SEO involved.
Though most companies, if creative, can find a way to serve others while promoting themselves during this period, other options are available if a large-scale marketing campaign is not viable.
- Create and improve content targeting important keywords.
SEO unfortunately follows the old adage known as the Matthew Effect in that the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”
Occupying the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for keywords means that these pages get more and more attention, which means additional backlinks, which further support their high placement.
With less competition during this time, now is paramount to earn these placements through great content.
By performing keyword research using tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs, you can discover opportunities to create or improve pages. Smaller businesses can still compete by focusing on long-tailed keywords with less competition. This also applies to keywords you own within striking distance, or at the bottom of the 1st page of the SERPs, that are ripe for improvement.
A good practice during this time though, especially if deciding among options and hoping for a more immediate result, is to follow keywords on Google Trends, which indicate how popular these search queries are during our current time and in the past.
In any case, many industries are experiencing traffic decline at the moment, so this asset may not bear fruit during our crisis. Make sure to properly annotate this event within analytics. Keep an eye on your new or improved content as things get better.
- Perform linkbuilding outreach.
With marketing spend decreasing, now is perfect to pursue low-cost strategies that reinforce partnerships while improving SEO.
Offering testimonials, case studies, and guest blogs to your partnerships and industry publications, in exchange for links, are both low-cost and likely to be more readily accepted as companies with reduced budgets.
Beginning email marketing campaigns to request reviews toward online reputation management, perhaps mentioned alongside a unique marketing campaign, helps not only SEO but Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) as well.
Improving SEO During a Recession
Mimicking the herd invites regression to the mean.
– Charlie Munger
The world has paused to ensure that those needing medical attention get it, which in turn has disrupted digital marketing.
Beyond the ideas listed here, now is ideal to improve your website and app user experience (UX). UX is intimately tied to SEO, since bounce rate and other user engagement metrics can be measured by search engines through dwell time. Website redesigns and technical SEO auditing make sense now as we all draw inward.
Remember that improving SEO must be a long-term strategy, so a lack of progress today will harm you eventually.
SEO is mostly a knowledge base now versus a practice. An agency can offer vast experience accumulated across many industries and clients. Finally, SEO is a comparatively low-cost channel with recurring expenses, that is easily outsourced and ideally suited to our modern challenges.
If already preparing marketing campaigns or other steps mentioned here, Avalaunch Media can help you to optimize it today.
About the Author
Ryan Lingenfelser is an independent SEO consultant that has partnered with Avalaunch Media, especially for technical SEO auditing and organic growth opportunities. Learn more about his work at RDLDIGITAL.